Facing the food and poverty crises in developing countries will require a new emphasis on smallscale water management in rainfed agriculture involving the redirection of water policy and large new investments. Rainfed systems dominate world food production, but water investments in rainfed agriculture have been neglected over the past 50 years. Upgrading rainfed agriculture promises large social, economic, and environmental paybacks, particularly in poverty reduction and economic development. Rainfed farming covers most of the world’s cropland (80%) and produces most of the world’s cereal grains (more than 60%), generating livelihoods in rural areas and producing food for cities. Estimates suggest that about 25% of the increased water requirement needed to attain the 2015 hunger reduction target of the Millennium Development Goal can be contributed from irrigation. The remaining 75% will have to come from water investments in rainfed agriculture.